The end for British Waterways Marinas Ltd

Published: Friday, 02 March 2018

OBVIOUSLY the value of British Waterways Marinas Ltd is too much of a temptation for Canal & River Trust to resist as it intends to sell the lot and pocket the cash!

It was way back in October 2003 that the then British Waterways purchased 10 failing marinas as British Waterways Marinas Ltd (BWML) eventually gaining a total of 18 across the country, with the statement that these would 'provide income for the upkeep of the waterways'.  It is now offering them for sale.

Money returned

It is estimated that the cost of the marinas coupled with the cost of the extensive management structure and the money wasting schemes has never covered the costs. In its early days money was passed on to British Waterways then returned to the coffers of BWML as revealed in narrowboatworld.

Though CaRT's statistics show a very good income, much was spent on its own schemes, with a good example constructing new jetties wherever they could be wedged in creating hundreds of new berths to accommodate what was seen as a burgeoning interest in boating. But not taking into account that British Waterways itself was at that time encouraging new marina building, with one after the other coming on line, with the result that many of the berths at the marinas still remain empty. The last official statement from BWML telling that the marinas were only two thirds full.

Reason for the sale

The official reason given for the sale by CaRT we are told:

'The Trust is looking to focus more on its core priorities and to secure long-term revenue from its investments. Having received a number of private approaches, and following an internal review, it has decided to explore options with a number of potential purchasers. The waterways have always benefited from private sector investment and this is also a good opportunity to introduce more private sector capital and energy into the sector'.

The fact that the reason for the sale of the marinas is to secure 'long term investment' clearly shows that there was no  'long term investment' in the marinas, or they would not be sold—hardly a good selling point for a prospective buyer!


Of course once again the Trust has engaged consultants to assist with the sales—BDO LLP and Vail Williams, who, a representative states 'will seek to ensure that the opportunity receives exposure to relevant investors and maximise the price that the Trust receives'.

We are also told that: 'All the proceeds from the sale of BWML would be invested in other income-generating assets, so as to deliver further sustainable revenue funding for maintaining the historic waterways in the Trust’s care'.

Network access

Only one of the BWML marinas actually pays 'network access', meaning there is at present no charge for the boats accessing the network from its marinas (that has been a bone of contention to many private marina owners who are charged the 'network access' giving BWML an unfair advantage) but after a sale the purchaser of the marina will have to pay the very expensive 'network access' to the Trust.

We can but wait and see.